It was a decade for fond farewells — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, David Wright — and eye-opening hellos —Aaron Judge, Pete Alonso, Gleyber Torres.
And that was just baseball!
For New York-area sports fans, there was not much to cheer about team-wise in the 2010s, with the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI victory the lone championship.
But on an individual basis, there was plenty of pizzazz. Here are our top 20 players, based (mostly) on star power and (secondarily) on performance:
No. 1: Derek Jeter
Sure, Jeter no longer was at peak baseball power in the 2010s, but the Yankees shortstop’s star power was undiminished. He topped our list for the 2000s, and had a pretty good decade in the 1990s, too. He will celebrate 2020 by being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
No. 2: Eli Manning
The 2010s produced only one New York-area championship, and its MVP was Manning for his efforts in Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots. The second half of the decade was a struggle — the Giants benched him in 2017 and ’19— but Manning’s resume makes him an all-time New York great.
No. 3: Alex Rodriguez
Our list is about stars, not boy scouts, and A-Rod was a Grade A lightning rod. He twice hit 30 or more homers for the Yankees but was ensnared in a PED mess that cost him the 2014 season. He also became a prominent TV analyst. And got engaged to Jennifer Lopez.
No. 4: Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ was a magnet for attention in his five seasons with the Giants, just as he was a magnet for the football on his famous one-handed touchdown catch in 2014. He had 44 touchdowns and 5,476 yards in the regular season, and added one stinker of a performance in the playoffs.
No. 5: Aaron Judge
Judge has played only three full seasons for the Yankees — and in only 396 games, thanks to injuries — but his physical presence and prodigious power quickly rocketed him to stardom late in the decade. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs in 2017 and has hit 110 overall.
No. 6: Mariano Rivera
Most of the Yankees reliever’s big moments came in the 1990s and 2000s, but even though he played only three full seasons in the 2010s he twice recorded 44 saves. His last game, in 2013, in which Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came to remove him, was an iconic moment.
No. 7: Jacob DeGrom
The Mets have a history of pitching excellence, but fans had not seen anything like this: back-to-back Cy Young Awards for deGrom in 2018 and ’19, despite a won-loss record of only 21-17 thanks to miserable run support. Through six seasons, deGrom has an ERA of 2.62. And 1,255 strikeouts.
No. 8: Henrik Lundqvist
“King Henrik” seems destined to be the Patrick Ewing of the early 21st century in New York sports — a consistent winner who never quite won it all. The closest the Rangers goalie has gotten was the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Lundqvist also has crossover appeal as a fashion plate with model good- ooks.
No. 9: Carmelo Anthony
Melo’s 6 ½ seasons as a Knick cannot be called a bust. He averaged 24.7 points and in 2012-13 led the league with 28.7 per game — and led the Knicks to 54 victories. Still, it was not quite enough. His isolation style proved an awkward fit for the modern game.
No. 10: Darrelle Revis
Revis peaked as a premier “shutdown” cornerback in 2009, but he still was a star for the Jets from 2010-11 before an injury-plagued season in 2012. “Revis Island” became perhaps the most recognized fictional location in sports. He played elsewhere for two seasons, returning to the Jets in 2015-16 after winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots, but he was not the same.
No. 11: John Tavares
As the face of the Islanders for nine seasons, Tavares totaled 621 regular-season points. His biggest goal beat the Panthers in double-OT in 2016, securing the team’s first playoff series victory in 23 years. He left as a free agent in 2018 and has been booed on Long Island since.
No. 12: David Wright
Wright was at his best in the 2000s, but the Mets third baseman had some success in the 2010s before back problems derailed him. As recently as 2012, he had 21 homers and 93 RBIs and batted .306. His homer in the 2015 World Series sparked the Mets’ only victory.
No. 13: CC Sabathia
Sabathia will be remembered as a pillar of the 2009 World Series championship team, but he spent another 10 years with the Yankees after that, including a 21-7 record with a 3.18 ERA in 2010 and a 14-5 record as late as 2017. He also was a much-respected team leader.
No. 14: Robinson Cano
Robbie Cano, don’t you know, was a dynamic Yankee in the late 2000s and early 2010s, including back-to-back seasons with more than 100 runs and 100 RBIs in 2010 and ’11. He left after 2013, then returned to New York as a Met in 2019, managing a throw-back, three-homer night.
No. 15: Justin Tuck
In the post-Michael Strahan era, Tuck became the face of the Giants’ defense. He wore it well. In 2010, he had 11 ½ sacks. In 2013, he had 11. Most importantly, after getting two sacks in the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII victory, he had two more in Super Bowl XLVI.
No. 16: Victor Cruz
The local kid from Paterson, N.J., came out of nowhere in 2010 to find a place in the NFL, and by 2011 was a hugely popular figure, on and off the field. His 99-yard touchdown reception against the Jets was a turning point for both franchises. He scored 23 touchdowns from 2011-13.
No. 17: Tina Charles
Winning two Olympic gold medals for the United States in the 2010s was a nice touch, as was being WNBA MVP in 2012. But locally Charles made her mark with the Liberty, whom she joined in 2014. She since has become their all-time leader in points (3,248) and rebounds (1,243).
No. 18: Jose Reyes
Like many on our list, Reyes was at his best in the 2000s. But remember 2011? He was his dynamic self, leading the league in batting (.337) and triples (16). Then he left. But he returned to the Mets in 2016 and had some moments, like 15 homers in ’18.
No. 19: Noah Syndergaard
“Thor” won over Mets fans when as a rookie he threw a message pitch at the Royals’ Alcides Escobar in the World Series, then invited anyone with a problem to meet him “60 feet, six inches away.” He went 14-9 in 2016 and 13-4 in 2018 but has been hampered by injuries.
No. 20: Mark Sanchez
“Sanchize” quarterbacked the Jets to AFC Championship Games in his first two seasons —in January of 2010 and ’11 — winning four road playoff games en route. His best statistical season was 2011, when he threw for 26 TDs. He was unable to sustain his early promise, and by 2014 he was an Eagle.